Our Journey With MKTG WMN: A One Year Reflection

March 23, 2022
— By
MKTG WMN Co-Founders
Women in meeting chatting

Happy first birthday to MKTG WMN!

Co-Founders Natalie Cantave (left) and Gabrielle Dalvet (right)

The brainchild of co-founders Natalie Cantave and Gabrielle Dalvet, MKTG WMN is the networking group for women in marketing that grows alongside each and every career journey, no matter the twists and turns.

A year later, we look back and reflect on what we’ve learned.

From juggling MKTG WMN amongst busy lives including new 9–5 jobs and new personal milestones (like a baby!), to trying to game plan what women want from a community — MKTG WMN has proven to both be organically successful and yet logistically challenging. We’re at almost 400 members with little to no promotion, but sheesh, it’s hard to run a community!

Here’s what we’re thinking about on this first anniversary:

What about MKTG WMN continues to drive you?

Gabrielle: MKTG WMN is a safe space for women in the industry to connect, ask questions, seek mentorship, and even vent. We intended for it to be a safe space and it’s maintained that mission, very organically. And while we wish we could be doing more in spite of full time jobs and busy lives, we know that at its core, MKTG WMN is working. That will always drive me to at the very least keep it alive — and ideally expand engagement and membership growth.

Natalie: The women in this community keep me going 1000%. I love how we can just connect about our goals (personal and professional), pets, personal lives outside of work, good books to read, advice about tools and resources, and so much more. I love how we are able to connect with women from all over the world and learn and grow with one another.

How has it been balancing MKTG WMN with a full-time job? What are some of the challenges?

Natalie: I’m writing this answer with my typical reality TV show in the background. It’s definitely been challenging navigating MKTG WMN, a full-time job, a personal life — all on top of a pandemic! There are times when I feel guilty not dedicating time to MKTG WMN because I just need to rest, but dedicating two times per week has made it so helpful — especially when I get to catch up regularly with Gab. I’m looking forward to continuing to dedicate time to work more efficiently so that we are making a bigger impact for the community.

Gabrielle: I’m writing this answer with the thirty minutes of free time I can squeeze out of my busy day with an eight week old. In other words, it has not been easy balancing the community with my job and my personal life. I think it’s a constant battle for every professional to juggle a crazy calendar. We always think we have more time and that things won’t take as long as they do. That push and pull gets even worse when you throw a kid into the mix. I’m hoping as our family schedule levels out, I can carve out dedicated time and will work even more efficiently than I did before to create engaging content and events for the community.

What have been some of the biggest surprises with MKTG WMN?

Gabrielle: The organic growth. We have barely run any recruiting campaigns and women keep finding us, sharing us, and joining us. We’re at almost four hundred members with little to no promotion. Really — besides a LinkedIn post or two. It’s amazing to see the growth and the ways in which women are finding us.

The raw vulnerability. In our events and even in Slack, women are bearing their souls to each other. It’s heartwarming to see the community feel so trusting of each other, which goes back to my earlier answer of it being such a safe space for us in this crazy industry.

Natalie: The incredible women from around the world who have found our community, especially their authenticity.that’s what makes the group feel so unique and special.

Also for myself, I was personally proud to create/build a community and brand from scratch. It’s also been so fun collaborating with women with their different skill sets so MKTG WMN can come to life. Especially for me being in the industry and having to build something from the ground up.

What did we accomplish within the first year?

We hosted virtual events every other month, which ended up being informal roundtables where women shared their stories about specific topics and then had time to ask each other questions. Topics have included career pathing, mentorship, DEIB, coaching, personal brand, and design. We’ve had up to fifty women RSVP and around 15–20 attend on average. Feedback has been super positive as we hope to build these up in 2022.

We also have published event recaps and career Q&A’s with members on our blog. We want to be a resource for women and that means providing resources in a multitude of mediums.

We’ve shared insights, events, questions, and answers in our Slack group. And we’ve even (slowly) started an email newsletter.

Most importantly, we’ve created connections. While our public channels in Slack may not have overwhelming engagement, women are connecting privately — with over 78% of our Slack messages sent via DM. Members have hired and referred other members, as full-time employees, contractors, and agencies. And we’ve coached each other through the good times and bad. We especially can’t wait to build on this particular success metric.

Who are we thankful for?

Gabrielle: Huge shoutout to our founding members: Ashley Lulkovitz, Caroline Pepek, Danielle Aihini, Dara Reyes, Elise Brown, Liza Dube, and Sarah Bedrick. These are the women we asked to support us in a bigger way and they have been remarkably helpful. Busy lives get in the way of all of us and yet they’ve continued to carve out time.

Big thanks to our first intern Sarah Doshi during the Fall 2021 semester. Sarah was so eager to learn and worked autonomously through our busy lives to get stuff done.

Lastly — we love our actively engaged members! The women who are sharing often in Slack, attending most of our events, and promoting MKTG WMN seemingly wherever they go. Thank you to Jenna Hasenkampf, Katie Vagnino, Elaine Appleton, Beth Strohbusch, Chima Mmeje, Chloe Louderback, Lindsay Rauch, Meghan Keaney Anderson, and probably so many more…we appreciate you!

Natalie: I’m so thankful for our founding members who continue to support us, our first intern Sarah for learning how to work with us while we are building at the same time, and our actively engaged members — aside from the ones Gab mentioned, definitely thank you to Crystal Martin for her mentorship, Gisselle Criollo, and the members who have been posting jobs to help our community get access to incredible roles.

One super important person that I am grateful for (without a doubt) is Gabrielle — she has been my rock throughout this whole year. We’ve been closer as friends and I’m so thankful for being on this journey with her.

Gabrielle (raw reaction): OMG, Natalie, you gave me a shoutout! You deserve the biggest shoutout! Natalie carried the team while I was pregnant and with a newborn. And +1 to becoming closer as friends. The outfit she got my adorable baby boy is the cutest thing in his wardrobe.

What is our vision for year 2?

Natalie: There are a few things I’m definitely thinking about for year 2….check them out and get ready for what’s coming up!!:

  1. Engagement — How can we build on our organic growth? How can we better engage our community and provide them with what they need? What content do members want to read?
  2. Sponsorship — I would love to see marketing agencies and technology companies sponsor us so that we can continue to grow and support our community
  3. More events — I’d love to see us planning in-person events so that way we are providing opportunities for in-person connection and networking. I know it’s something that I definitely miss and hope to bring that to MKTG WMN while tackling the ongoing pandemic
  4. Website enhancements — How can we improve our website so that it features content about the industry/content that members want to read or come to our website? One enhancement that I’m excited to work on is our job board — I’d love to develop a job board so that women in our community can find great opportunities
  5. Better time management/work efficiency — How can I (as a co-founder) better manage my time so that way I can work smarter and feel more productive on MKTG WMN tasks? How can I better balance my full-time responsibilities with MKTG WMN and life outside of work?

Gabrielle: Better engagement. How can we curate content about the industry that’s compelling enough for members to read and comment on?

More events + in-person ones. With the pandemic hopefully evolving into an endemic, can we fire up some in-person events?

Job board. The great resignation seems to be higher for women, and we’d like to share the great roles available to us.

Mentor program. Mentors can be life-changing. How can we connect like minded folks to learn from one another?

Sponsorship. We want to keep the community free forever. Can we get marketing agencies and technology companies interested in sponsorship?

Looking to the future

While we wish we could dedicate more time and energy into MKTG WMN on the daily, we know this much is true: there is something special about this band of women. They come from all walks of life — countries all over the world, across industries, from college students to CMOs. They help each other, even if that means reaching out to a perfect stranger. And they feel like MKTG WMN is a place they can turn to in times of career need. We’re looking forward to building on the group’s intrinsic value in 2022 and beyond — in whatever way we can.

MKTG WMN is a networking group that grows with you, as you jump from ladder to ladder and shatter ceiling-after-ceiling. We cost nothing and pay dividends through a community of women across roles, regions, and industries. Working out of a LinkedIn group and Slack, we exchange ideas, produce tactical content, and host events with a community vibe.